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Riding Lessons Mass Market Paperback – Mar 11 2004


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reissue edition (March 11 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060580275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060580278
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 10.8 x 2.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #291,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Like The Horse Whisperer, Gruen's polished debut is a tale of human healing set against the primal world of horses. The Olympic dreams of teenaged equestrian Annemarie Zimmer end when her beloved horse, Harry, injures her and destroys himself in a jumping accident. In the agonizing aftermath, she gives up riding and horses entirely. Two decades later, she returns to her family's horse farm a divorcee, with her troubled teenaged daughter, Eve, in tow. There, her gruff Germanic mother struggles to maintain the farm and care for Annemarie's father, who is stricken with ALS. Although Annemarie decides (disastrously) to manage the farm's business, her attention quickly turns to an old and ostensibly worthless horse with the same rare coloring as Harry. Her long-denied passion for riding reawakens as she tracks the horse's identity and eventually discovers it to be Harry's younger brother. She must heal both horse and herself as she struggles with her father's deterioration, Eve's rebellion and her attraction to both the farm's new trainer and her childhood sweetheart Dan. Impulsive and self-absorbed, Annemarie isn't always likable, but Gruen's portrait of the stoic elder Zimmers is beautifully nuanced, as is her evocation of Eve's adolescent troubles. Amid this realistically complex generational sandwich, the book's appealing horse scenes—depicted with unsentimental affection—help build a moving story of loss, survival and renewal.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Annemarie, 18, is a world-class equestrienne who is sure to be a contender in the next Olympics. Then, a terrible jumping accident causes the death of her magnificent horse, Highland Harry, as well as severe injuries to Annemarie herself. Damaged as much in spirit as in body, she marries Roger, moves to another state, and gets a degree in English, vowing never to ride again. Twenty years of a more or less emotionally empty life go by until one fateful day when Annemarie loses both her job and her husband. With her defiant 15-year-old daughter in tow, Annemarie returns to her parents' riding school in New Hampshire, where her father is dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). Suddenly, Annemarie is bombarded with all sorts of emotions and responsibilities, including the rekindling of an old romance and the discovery of a broken-down horse that looks remarkably like Highland Harry. Fans of Nicholas Evans' The Horse Whisperer (1995) and Jessica Bird's impressive debut, Leaping Hearts (2002), will also enjoy this emotion-packed book, which is so exquisitely written it's hard to believe that it's also a debut. Shelley Mosley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
"Are you ready?" says Roger as he gives me a leg up, and I laugh, because I've never been so ready in all my life. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Carol Paterson on July 19 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After reading "Water for Elephants" I was looking forward to reading
another book by this author but to my disappointment this book was awful.
The main character Annemarie was ridiculous, thinking of preparing a
gourmet meal when she couldn't even cook and and dying her horse with
hair dye, please!! Also I could not believe that she could not "get over"
her teenage problems with her parents and be there for her Father when he
was dying, terrible. The romance interests were lame and the ending was
predictable. Can't believe it was the same author that wrote the wonderful "Water for Elephants"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book strictly on the jacket synopsis. It appealed to me because I used to ride competitively and love fiction. Boy was I disappointed.
Annemarie is such a broken character that I found her unpalatable. At 38, she sneaks out of the house in the morning so she doesn't have to face the father that she knows is dying? Shallow should be this woman's middle name. It is very difficult to root for her or find satisfaction with the novel when she discovers what she thinks is contentment in the last few pages.
The equine stuff is fairly believable, although the constant references to the "stablehands" like they were second class citizens wore thin. The people that keep a barn running and successful are the people that Annemarie shuns and is revolted that her daughter associates with. I find this inconsistent with my experience.
There are several questions left unanswered (why is Dan, the veterinarian living in a condemned-sounding trailer?).
This is a book that makes you think that you, too, can be a novelist if this is where the bar is set.
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By A Customer on May 12 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In Riding Lessons, Sara Gruen gives us a challenging heroine, one who is emotionally stunted yet remarkably sympathetic. We first meet Annemarie as a world-class rider at age 18, possessed with herself, her beloved horse, Harry, and the expectations that others, particularly her domineering father, have for her career. After an accident that destroys Harry and nearly destroys her, she cannot face riding again, and equally cannot face her father and those she believes, rightly or wrongly, expect her to live up to her promise as an equestrienne. So, after a remarkable recovery, she sets about proving herself in a life entirely divorced from her family. Twenty years later, that life falls apart, and Annemarie learns that her father has ALS. The remainder of the novel plays out her growing awareness of herself, amid many missteps, as she reconciles the person she has become with the life she abandoned.
Gruen writes the book from Annemarie's point of view, allowing us to see among the heroine's many faults her understanding that the weakness are her own. We feel her struggle to reach out to her dying father and her pain at being unable to bring herself to do so. We see what's wrong with her handling of her daughter, yet we understand, and we appreciate her willingness to accept her role in the contentious relationship and try to change.
And then there are the horses. Without sentimentalizing, Gruen brings to life the powerful feelings that come as horse and rider learn to respond to one another. Gruen's writing, and particularly her dialog, is smooth and natural and sometimes playful. She gives us the details we need to understand a scene or a character and lets us react-with tears and occasional laughter for this reader. This is a book to be savored, one I'm sure I'll reread before long.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
What's harder on a woman? Loving horses? Or men? For Annemarie Zimmer Aldrich both are equally heartbreaking.
At age 18, Annemarie oozes with confidence and talent as an equestrian athlete. She and her beloved horse Harry are soaring to the top of the eventing world, and riding a path -- carefully chosen by her overbearing Austrian Pappa -- toward the Olympics. During a final jump at competition, Harry shatters his leg and lands on top of Annemarie, crushing her and their future together. Harry's injuries are too massive to mend and he's put out of his misery on the spot. But Annemarie's misery just begins as she's pieced back together physically, yet remains broken emotionally.
She swears off horses and riding, for a life with Roger and their daughter Eva, in Minnesota far from her parents' New Hampshire horse farm. She earns a degree in technical writing and buries herself in a career editing software manuals to avoid the pain of coming to terms with her huge losses.
Twenty years after the accident it all comes crashing down. She is laid off at her job. Roger leaves her for a younger woman. Fifteen-year old Eva hates her. And Pappa is dying of ALS. Her life in shambles and harboring a rather self-absorbed sense of obligation to Mutti and Pappa's desperate situation, she drags Eva with her back home to the horse farm.
Instead of finding refuge, Annemarie sets off on a collision course with her past, present, and future, which happen to be contained in the body of a horse she names Hurrah -- who's almost identical to her Harry -- and the heart of Dan, the man she abandoned along with her passion in that other life. But she can't have either of them until she comes to terms with the pieces of her own shattered soul. So she smothers herself in failure.
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